Day 131: Spain, El Puerto de Santa Maria

OMG, we had to get up at sparrow’s fart this morning. It was so early we were fully expecting it to be dark but, of course, it wasn’t. We’re just not used to waking up at 8:30am. It’s our tour around the castle in town – Castillo de San Marcos. Gema (Hema in Spanish), our guide for the next 1.5 hours, is an absolute live-wire and within the first 10 minutes I’m feeling exhausted on her behalf! Despite that we had a wonderful explore around the Muslim mosque then christian fortified church then gothic fortress now privately owned by the Cabellero sherry family – Bodega Cabellero so that at our tour ended with a sherry tasting. We can’t think of a better way to end a tour.

Sherries are a fortified wine – their fortification is by alcohol (unlike port where the fortification is additional sugar) so they are between 15-25% alcohol by volume. Yup, a pretty lethal wine-style drink, so beware!

Here are the fun facts (that you can skip if you want toπŸ˜‰)

FINO – a dry sherry of 15% ABV served chilled at 7degC not allowed to oxidise so lovely and crisp and clear

OLOROSO – exactly the same sherry as the fino but with additional alcohol added to 20% ABV that kills the yeast layer allowing the sherry to oxidise so although dry now a deeper brown colour with much more body. Also served chilled at 7degC

CREAM – a semi-sweet sherry made by mixing FINO with 20-30% PEDRO XIMENES, deep brown with a higher sugar content, still slightly dry and served at cellar temperature, so around 12-14degC

PEDRO XIMENES – we learned is not a brand (!!!) but a type of sherry, sweet like dessert wine or moscatel, also served 12-14degC and neither of our favourites. The grapes are picked and allowed to dry in the sun till they are raisins then the sherry is made hence the real taste of raisins in the sherry. The gorgeous Mr T has surprised me beyond all measure, his legendary sweet tooth took an alcohol break and has really taken to the Oloroso.

And the biggest surprise of all, the new style of vermouth called Vermut Rosa, so a pink vermouth. With all the spicing of a typical dry vermouth mixed with a dry sherry – quite out of this world!

With several glasses of alcohol now coursing through our veins, it was time for a little food. Off we wobbled on our bikes and after a bit of a circuitous route, my spidey senses locked onto a bar. Plastic red chairs and white tables but, for the moment, a seat in the sun, weren’t the best advert but then neither was it’s position in town away from the main tourist strip. But we weren’t here for any of that, we were here for the food. And my tingling spidey senses had not led us astray!

In our broken Spanish we managed to work out from the owner manager as he rubbed his generous tummy, that he could recommend some dishes that he himself ate….plenty of!

Callos (tripe) with chourizo and chickpeas, the BEST Tortillas de Camarones that we have tasted since we’ve been eating them here – thin, crispy deep-fried fritters, a speciality of Cadiz and surrounding area, made with tiny but incredibly tasty brown shrimp – and proper croquetas made with bechemel sauce and flavoured with Iberico jamon served with the tiniest, thinnest deep fried chips lawdy lawdy

And did I mention that we had this with another teeny glass of Olorosa for me and a Tinto de Verano (summer wine) made with red wine and lemon pop – weird sounding but oh so right! – for the gorgeous one then finished off with a carajillo (coffee with a shot of local brandy).

We managed quite well to ride passed the police station in a straight line πŸš΄β€β™€οΈ ….without giggling…..much….. but it was a rather early night for both of us.

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